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John Buchanan

G/16351 Private

10th Battalion Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), 123rd Infantry Brigade, 41st Division

Age: 24

Date of Death: Killed in Action 21.9.17

Buried: Tyne Cot Memorial Panel 106 to 108

Family history: He lived with his mother at Horsemarket Lane, Falkirk, with his two brothers and two sisters. He was employed in a local iron foundry before enlisting in Stirling in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders with service number 3826.

The action leading to his death

The 41st Division was engaged in the Battle of the Menin Road, from 20 to 25 September. They were part of X Corps and had topographically the most difficult ground to cross. The division formed part of the southern defensive flank for the main attack with the final objective being the German third Line atop Tower Hamlets spur. To reach this objective they had to cross the Bassevillebeek valley and then climb the relatively steep eastern slope defended by numerous German bunkers. The capture of the tower Hamlets spur would secure the British right flank of the main attack.

Linesman Map. British positions on 20 September 1917

At midday due to the advance of the 122nd and 124th Brigades advance being held up the 123rd Brigade was ordered to reinforce the Brigade firing line and to take the Green Line. With the 23rd Middlesex on the right, the 10th Royal West Kent in the centre and the 20th Durham Light Infantry on the left the Brigade began to advance in artillery formation through Shrewsbury forest via Lower Star Post to Java Trench. They immediately came under machine gun fire from Tower Hamlets spur and the Quadrilateral, this was three cottages that had been reinforced with concrete and wire entrenchments, across the Bassevillebeek. At 6.30pm under the cover of a special barrage which was directed on Tower Hamlets companies of the 23rd Middlesex advanced down the slope into the valley and reached the Bassevillebeek however they became pinned down by machine gun fire. At 8.25pm they requested reinforcements to be sent up as well as small arms ammunition. At 9.20pm the 10th Royal West Kents and the 20th Durhams were ordered to push fighting patrols forward to make contact with the Middlesex however by then the Middlesex were digging in on the Bassevillebeek line.

War Diary recording the battalion casualties

Linesman Map. showing Java Trench and the Quadrilateral

Medals Awarded:

The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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